Monday, August 13, 2012

Big Idea Monday- Recycled Energy


Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did things, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That is because they were able to connect experiences they've had and synthesized new things.
-Steve Jobs
I was at a resort a couple of summers ago that had an old fashioned stationary work out bike next to the pool bar. They hooked up a blender to it so as you peddled you powered the blender to make your own daiquiris. Fun, yes. But it wasn’t exactly a life altering invention. But have you heard about the two recent Harvard grads who came up with an invention that is both? It is a soccer ball and portable generator in one. The more you kick it, the more energy it stores.

Jessica Matthews and Julia Silverman formed a company last year called Uncharted Play Inc. to promote their SOCCKET ball. Their motto is to make fun functional.  
According to their website, 1/4th of the world population does not have access to reliable electricity. Household alternatives like kerosene are damaging to the environment, costly and blamed for the deaths of 1.6 million people a year. For 30 minutes of play, the SOCCKET generates three hours of light. It is being called the world’s first eco-friendly portable generator. By the way, Matthews and Silverman majored in social science, not engineering. 

If they can get three hours of light out of a ball, what kind of energy are we producing on our bikes or on the machines in the gym? My take away on this Big Idea Monday is to modify a rechargeable battery that is powered by the energy output on exercise equipment. Even if it only produces enough to power the gyms, that would be a huge savings. Right now, the SOCCKET seems to be bringing much needed energy sources to undeveloped countries, but couldn't we help put a dent in our consumption here in the U.S. based on similar technology? My gym was packed today at 6 a.m. (yes, this is my subtle way of bragging that I dragged myself out of bed to work out).

Unchartered Play succeeded in identifying a need and than coming up with a sustainable solution. That is the first and biggest step in turning an idea into a marketable invention. I found a few helpful resources out there for those of you entertaining the next big idea.The United Inventor's Association is a treasure trove or resources including a directory to find a local inventors club or the instructions and support to start your own. The Inventor's Association, a 501c3 dedicated to providing education and support to inventors, endorses another resource called Inventors Blueprint. The site offers a four part video series explaining how to get started on transforming your ideas into the next big thing.

What is your big idea? More important, what are you going to do about it?

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